Jillian Hirsch is a visual artist and art educator. She currently is a handbuilding instructor at Mighty Mud and Visual Art Teacher at the L&N STEM Academy. She is originally from South Jersey/Upstate New York and moved to Knoxville in 2017 to get her MFA at the University of Tennessee. Jillian's artistic practice is focused in ceramic sculpture, community engagement, and large-scale installations of tile mosaics. Through her artistic practice, Jillian strives to engage others in dialogue concerning ecological literacy and environmental issues while exploring speculative futures on a damaged planet.
The Anthropocene is a proposed name for our current geological epoch; a time on Earth characterized by human-caused planetary change. Without much regard for the many other forms of life that inhabit this planet, our species has been shaping landscapes, extracting resources, and generating waste at an exponential rate. Although the magnitude of this collective impact can be measured and mapped on a geological scale, it is much harder to perceive (or even care about) these changes through the tiny lens of our day to day life. Too often the environmental baseline shifts to a future that is more depleted than before.
As an artist and educator in the 21st Century, I feel an overwhelming responsibility to make work in response to human-caused environmental changes while critiquing the problematic cultural idea of “the natural world.” As we continue to extensively shape the planet, I believe we can no longer afford to think of nature as something unadulterated and separate from humans. My research rejects the all-but-mythical romantic view of nature as a human-less wilderness brimming with native flora and fauna in favor of a more empathetic and inclusive view that recognizes the complex and layered beauty of novel, untraditional, and damaged ecosystems. My artwork embarrasses the vitality of weeds, the kinship of pests, and the ingenuity invasive species. Both my studio and social practice aims to cultivate a greater sense of ecological literacy and environmental imagination while asking the viewer to reconsider their place in the world. Through multimedia artwork, community engagement, and cross-displinary collaboration, my practice is a sincere attempt to find hope for a multi-species future on a finite planet.